Sydney is a gleaming beacon of a city, gorgeous and unmistakable thanks to a stunning harbour setting and the iconic bridge/opera house combo. Many travelers have been there twice or more, drawn back to the sights and sounds that make up Australia’s largest metropolis - so it’s fortunate that Sydney is full of hidden gems and new things to see and do!
Once Darling Harbour, the central city landmarks and other main attractions are in the “been there, done that” basket, tourists can be a bit stumped - but they have only scratched the surface of Sydney! The following are a few suggestions for those who want to go a little deeper. A Sydney Airport car rental
opens up myriad possibilities for the intrepid visitor, so get some wheels and get exploring!
1 . Natural wonders
With a vehicle, you can explore some of the hidden-away beaches, gardens and other natural wonders dotted around Sydney. For a beach experience away from the crowds at Bondi, try the sheltered Red Leaf pools at Double Bay which lies a short drive from the CBD, or head north of Manly to try out the long surf beach at Collaroy or the picturesque Warriewood. There is no shortage of stretches of sand in and around the city!
For a great day trip, venture north or south to the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park and Royal National Park respectively. These harbour such beautiful spots as the lagoon and waterfall at Wattamolla and the Aboriginal Heritage Track in Ku-Ring-Gai, among many others.
2 . Retail therapy
Most visitors to Sydney will hit Darling Harbour and the CBD - perhaps look in the Strand Arcade and the QVB - for their shopping fix, but there is much to shop for beyond that small part of the city.
For some food, fashion and farmers’ produce on sale, try the many markets around Sydney’s suburbs. Paddy’s Markets at Haymarket are popular, held Wednesday to Sundays and featuring a variety of goods. Clothing and accessories are the focus at Saturday’s Paddington Market in Oxford Street, and also the casual Bondi Markets. Foodies, try The Rocks Foodies Market held every Friday at The Rocks.
Outlets are also popular due to the great savings that can be found there - and Sydney has plenty. For bargains, get in the car and head to DFO in Homebush, the Birkenhead Point Outlet Centre in Drummoyne, and Mcevoy Street and Botany Road in Alexandria.
3 . Cafes
Whether it’s for brunch, lunch or just a coffee (we recommend brunch), Sydney has plenty of cafes - and it’s a favourite local pastime. We have a few suggestions below - but you can also have a look around while you explore and find your own hidden gems.
North of the bridge, try the Axil Coffee Co in Kirribilli or health-focused Ora in Manly. For those who like to be close to the action, Bills in Bondi is a bit of an institution.
With a rental car, you’ll be able to head out of the CBD and uncover some fantastic spots in the outer suburbs which are likely less crowded. Likely options include Circa Espresso in Parramatta, Ruby’s Diner in Queens Park, Stain @ The Hill in Hunters Hill, and many more.
4 . Events
In such a big and worldly city, there’s always something going on that offers a unique Sydney experience. From sporting matches to art, food and more, you’ll find something that strikes your fancy whenever you arrive.
Sydney Olympic Park
is 30 minutes’ drive west of the CBD, and hosts many sporting events - such as State of Origin and other rugby league matches, rugby union clashes, hockey, football, cricket and plenty of other codes. It is also the venue for many big concerts and festivals in Sydney.
In the Opera House and other Sydney theatres like the Roslyn Packer Theatre, State Theatre and Riverside Theatre, there are productions of all kinds year-round. Other popular and miscellaneous annual events in Sydney include the Mardi Gras in february/March, the Sydney Harbour regatta in March, the Royal Easter Show at eastertime, the Sydney Film Festival in June, Vivid Sydney light festival in June, Christmas events, fireworks on New Years Eve and multiple running events throughout the year.
5 . Fun sights and activities
These don’t fit neatly into categories, but are just cool spots for the seasoned Sydney traveler.
- For a lazy morning or afternoon out, head over to the Grounds of Alexandria and the surrounding former industrial precinct. This artsy district is full of cafes, gardens and shops, ideal for wandering.
- Shark Island makes a perfect picnic spot. It’s in the middle of Sydney Harbour and you can take a ferry there, enjoy the sand and grass areas, and even rent a kayak.
- Parks like Paddington Reservoir Gardens in Paddington and Lavender Bay Parklands in Lavender Bay provide refreshing greenness in Sydney’s inner suburbs.
- Chinatown near the Haymarket area is a great way to spend a few hours, especially if you’re hungry! There are also shops and markets.
- Sappho Books, Cafe and Bar is a bit of a favourite amongst locals and tourists alike. It is a second-hand book store in Glebe, combined with a cafe and wine and tapas bar. Perfect! Those who prefer music to books might like Suzie Q Coffee and Records in Surry Hills.
- There’s a coastal trail between Bondi and Coogee for those who have had their fill of swimming and sunbathing and want to venture a little further. It’s 6 kilometres of pathways with all kinds of things to see and places to stop along the way.